Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Bennie Mills

Google unveils point-and-shoot VR cameras from Lenovo and Yi

Google unveils point-and-shoot VR cameras from Lenovo and Yi

Lenovo is making a big deal about the Mirage VR camera's point-and-shoot simplicity.

It feels like Google's announcement of standalone Daydream VR headsets from partners HTC and Lenovo came an eternity ago, and while the former hardware maker pulled out of the high-profile alliance to focus on its own immersive products, the Lenovo Mirage Solo with Daydream is official and (almost) fully detailed at last.

In close collaboration with Google, the Mirage Solo features WorldSense, its six degrees-of-freedom technology that lets you move around in a virtual world as if you're really there. I tried out the Mirage Solo and the most impressive aspect of it was just how comfortable it was to wear. VR180 cameras, by contrast, capture a greater sense of immersive depth as there's more space within the captured file dedicated to the core of the action.

It was a just over two weeks ago that Lenovo's Mirage Solo headset stopped by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and on Tuesday, Lenovo made it official.

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There is quite a bit of Daydream content now available through Google's VR storefront, the question is whether the Lenovo headset will be popular enough to drive developers to update content for its positional tracking and create wholly new experiences that are only possible with the 6DoF tracking technology. So far, the media library for VR is relatively thin, due to the high costs of shooting and creating content. "Watching VR180 gives such a strong sense of presence that it's nearly like having a time machine that lets you be there all over again", Clay Bavor, a Google vice president, wrote in a blog post. Around to the other end, you have your volume controls and a 3.5mm headphone jack. This means it will be able to run all of the games and apps on the Daydream store, which until now has only been running on Android smartphones.

Powering this experience is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 VR platform, which includes 2017's hottest smartphone SoC paired with 4GB of RAM.

While this short demo didn't let us mess around fully with the environment, it's clear that the newfound freedom that WorldSense brings is enormous for mobile VR.

The Mirage has three simple operating modes: photo, video, and live broadcasting.

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After the demo completed, we tapped the home button to return to the Daydream's main menu to see a familiar landing page that we're used to seeing in the Daydream View. The 256x1440 display offers a 110-degree filed of view, and the whole headset weighs in at 1.42 pounds. That headset is retailing for around US$600. The fact that the headset provides nearly flawless isolation from light also plays into this gain in immersion. Much like the Mirage Solo, the Oculus Go comes with integrated display and computing power.

But unlike the Daydream View and many other headsets out there, the Mirage Solo will be able to track movement without the use of external sensors. We didn't think we'd be saying this, but that's now the entry-level headset for Daydream.

Back to the newly outed Mirage Solo from Lenovo, and we've been given a price estimate of under $400 (roughly £295) for when the device goes on sale sometime in the spring.

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